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Politics, Theory, and FilmCritical Encounters with Lars von Trier$
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Bonnie Honig and Lori J. Marso

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780190600181

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: October 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780190600181.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM OXFORD SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (oxford.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Oxford University Press, 2020. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in OSO for personal use. date: 28 November 2020

Black Suns and a Bright Planet

Black Suns and a Bright Planet

Melancholia as Thought Experiment

(p.305) 14 Black Suns and a Bright Planet
Politics, Theory, and Film

Thomas Elsaesser

Oxford University Press

This chapter uses Melancholia as a case study for two related issues. First, it aligns a typically European “sense of an ending”—about the sustainability of a certain way of life—with epochal shifts in the cinema’s self-understanding as a realist medium, now “in collision” with the cold and lunar images of digital cinema. Second, the chapter tries to show how this crisis nonetheless gives rise to a sense of hope, insofar as an altered status is proposed for European cinema, namely that of a “thought experiment.” At once speculative and self-reflexive, von Trier’s cinema as thought experiment invites and accommodates a variety of hermeneutic approaches. It permits one to “think the unthinkable” while adhering to systemic constraints and sets up rules that redefine what we understand by “realism” and “reference.”

Keywords:   Melancholia, sense of an ending, digital cinema, von Trier’s cinema, European cinema, thought experiment, hermeneutic approaches

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